Exfoliation is a skin care therapy in which the outer layers of dead skin cells are gently sloughed off with the use of an abrasive tool or product. Any area of the skin can be exfoliated, but it is important to use products intended for your facial skin type. By speeding up the skin’s natural process of shedding dead skin cells, exfoliation helps prevent pimples and blackheads, which develop when pores and sebaceous glands are blocked by built-up debris. As we get older, our cellular turnover slows, causing dullness of the skin; exfoliation also addresses this problem.
Types of exfoliants
There are four ways to exfoliate:
- Using a tool that scrubs, like a loofah or washcloth.
- Using a cleansing product that contains abrasive particles.
- Using a product that contains gentle exfoliating acids, like alpha-hydroxy, beta-hydroxy, or salicylic acids.
- Using a product that contains enzymes, which digest dead skin cells, and are gentle and non-abrasive on the skin.
The first two options require rubbing action on the skin. The last two do not. Instead, the product removes the outer layers of skin by reacting chemically with dead skin cells.
Professional exfoliation is often more intensive than home treatments, and can include options such as microdermabrasion and chemical peels. Ask your esthetician about treatments that may be beneficial for you.
Finding an esthetician
Your skin care treatments should be provided by a properly trained professional. Don’t hesitate to ask your skin care therapist about her background, training, and experience—especially as it relates to the treatment you are considering.